Stiaan van Zyl’s outstanding century on Test debut, at the very least, silenced the pretenders – and their misguided supporters, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
Calls for Rilee Rossouw, David Miller or Farhaan Behardien to fill the void left by JP Duminy were very misplaced. Miller and Behardien are adequate limited-overs cricketers and, although both will profess to be ready for Test match cricket, van Zyl is the correct answer for the foreseeable future.
Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar started their careers at position six or seven in the batting order – and have since been promoted in the wake of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis’ exit.
Van Zyl’s arrival is probably less permanent, as Duminy should reclaim the berth once his knee injury has recovered, but it will put pressure on Alviro Petersen.
Petersen is in the middle of a poor stretch of form and the proverbial fickle, patriotic knives are out. Van Zyl has already voiced his ambition to possibly open the batting and this, coupled with Duminy’s return, would hasten Petersen’s last-chance saloon. It, too, would silence those who errantly want Quinton de Kock at the top of the Test match order.
Van Zyl, during Thursday’s press conference, admitted that he was already thinking about scoring a century when his half-ton arrived. Early days, indeed, but this hunger for big contributions, married to a humble approach that is evidently taking nothing for granted, all but screams the real deal – if not the complete package, yet.
Test cricket has seen plenty of batsmen unable to successfully negotiate the step up from domestic competition to the international stage. While Van Zyl has been afforded a relatively undemanding baptism against a depleted Windies attack, he is bridging the divide superbly.